Texas Police Fatally Shot a Woman in Her Own Home After a Neighbor Asked for a Welfare Check
The neighbor later said, "If I had never dialed the police department, she'd still be alive."
A Fort Worth police officer shot Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, 28, in Jefferson's own home on Saturday night. Jefferson had been playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew late into the night.
A local NBC affiliate reports that a neighbor contacted the police—using a non-emergency line—to do a welfare check on Jefferson's home. In a recording of the phone call, the neighbor voiced concern that the doors of the house were open and the lights were on. The neighbor confirmed in the call that vehicles belonging to the family were parked in the driveway. But while the family was "usually home" at that time, he felt it wasn't "normal" for the doors to be open so late.
Two officers arrived at the home between 2:20 and 2:30 a.m.
Body camera footage shows the responding officers walking around the outside of the house with a flashlight. At one point, an officer sees someone in the window, points his flashlight, and tells the person inside, "Put your hands up! Show me your hands!"
A gunshot can be heard immediately after. At no point in the video are the responding officers heard announcing themselves as law enforcement.
The video includes a blurry still of a gun the cops say they found in the house. The police have yet to explain if they saw Jefferson holding the gun or if the gun was even in the same room with her.
(Warning: This video may be disturbing to viewers.)
Fort Worth police have announced that they will investigate the incident. Details of the case are still unfolding, but the footage is enough for family attorney Lee Merritt to call the incident a "murder."
"You didn't hear the officer shout, 'Gun, gun, gun,'" he told NBC. "He didn't have time to perceive a threat. That's murder."
Jefferson's family and community are still stunned by the loss.
"I mean it's senseless. My daughter…had her whole life in front of her," her father, Marquis Jefferson, told CBS. "That's my one and only daughter. I'll never forget that."
Only a week before Jefferson's death, Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, was convicted of murder for entering the wrong apartment and fatally shooting her 26-year-old neighbor Botham Jean. Jean's shooting death occured about half an hour from Fort Worth.
The community is still experiencing the fallout of Jean's death, and now it will now be forced to deal with Jefferson's as well.
James Smith, the neighbor who initially contacted the non-emergency line, has told the local CBS affiliate that he regretted his call.
"If I had never dialed the police department, she'd still be alive," Smith said. "It makes you not want to call the police department."
Police Police Chief Edwin Kraus announced at a Monday press conference that the shooting officer, revealed to be Aaron Dean, resigned that morning.